Revealing my disinterest in ice cream always draws a lot of incredulity on the behalf of the listener. Sometimes the reaction is decidedly offended, as though ice cream were treasured family moment I just figuratively dismissed with a bored wave of my hand. Other times it’s complete confusion. What did you just say? What do you mean, you “don’t like ice cream?” You must like some kind of ice cream. And it’s not like I hate the stuff, it’s just that I don’t care much for it, and if I’m going to down a thousand calories in the span of 10 minutes, I’d rather it be noodles I drag from takeout carton to pursed lips with some bamboo sticks.
But every now and again, I have this crazy craving for a banana split. And you know, I’m a simple girl in that respect: banana, vanilla ice cream, walnuts, chocolate bits, butterscotch and of course, a maraschino cherry. With this in mind I present a take on blondies that is a little lighter than usual and reminiscent of a banana split.
I’d like to use this opportunity to let you know, in case you didn’t, that a kitchen scale is a wise investment because then you don’t have to pack brown sugar, which is one of those things that just seems to completely interrupt the flow of my baking process. Similarly, you don’t have to sift your flour in order to measure it only to sift it again into the mixing bowl. And your scale has other uses that will no doubt come up in future recipes as I loudly bang the “really, just get a kitchen scale already” drum.
I thought that these bananas looked rather . . . conversational.
By now we all know to use very ripe bananas in our baking, and by necessity I often end up freezing them too, in an attempt to salvage that lone straggler at the end of the week. This is a convenient circumstance, as freezing then thawing the fruit bursts cells and brings out as much flavour as is possible from it. At least, that’s my understanding, but the actual fact that pre-frozen fruit is better for baking, for whatever reason this is the case, is confirmed by on Mr. Alton Brown who was rambling on in his weird way about it one Sunday afternoon a couple years ago as I nursed a hangover on the couch.
Wheat germ is one of those things I haven’t experimented with very much, but it has an unobtrusive nuttiness that avoids being too earthy. Of course, I’ve only had opportunity to pair it with quite a bit of sugar, so maybe this is different in other contexts. Also, walnuts and chocolate chips.
I polka dotted the top with some maraschino cherries. Because they really do scream ice cream, and it was the cutest thing I could think for a garnish.
I find that full-on brownie size (more than 3″ on a side!) is just way too big, and really, after the first half I’m eating it because I don’t really want to hold onto the rest. With this in mind, I cut to the chase and halved the usual size. Triangles seem to make the split look more deliberate and less “shit, too many people showed up.”
These had just the perfect brownie-imitative texture. They weren’t too cakey, but had a lovely rise to them, avoiding the heavy greasiness of some blondie recipes. Of course, sacrificing that greasiness also sacrifices that amazing chewy crustiness, but the edges on these things are still quite satisfying.
And while the intention was to have a bar that really embraced a banana split all on its own, I would be seriously remiss if I had not tried it with a simple vanilla ice cream.
Banana Split Blondies
1/2 c butter (1 stick), softened
2/3 c sugar
2/3 c light brown sugar (147g)
2 tsp vanilla
4 very ripe bananas (previously frozen is best), mashed
1 c whole wheat flour (125g)
1 c white flour (125g)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c wheat germ (optional)
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped walnuts
24 maraschino cherries, drained
Preheat oven to 350o.
Cream butter & sugars, add vanilla, bananas and egg. Sift wheat & white flours along with the baking powder into the mix, then combine. Stir in wheat germ, chocolate chips and walnuts.
Spread into well-greased 9×13 metal baking pan—a glass pan will bake differently, so be aware. Dot with staggered maraschino cherries, three to a row, eight to a column.
Bake 35 minutes, and allow to cool completely before cutting. To get the triangle thing going on, first cut into a 3×4 grid (12 pieces), then cut each rectangle diagonally so each piece has one cherry.
nutrition summary: (1 of 24 bars) 174 calories, 7g fat, 1g fiber; about 4 weight watchers points